- Chicken: We offer small numbers of organic-fed, pasture-raised whole broiler chickens ranging from 4-6 lbs each in the late Summer and early Autumn.
- Chicken Eggs: We offer small numbers of organic-fed, pasture-raised chicken eggs from our flock of mixed heritage breed chickens.
- Duck Eggs: We occasionally offer organic-fed, pasture-raised duck eggs from our small flock of Rouen Ducks.
Quality food is hard to find. I am not just referring to food that tastes good, nor am I just referring to “health” food. I am referring to food that is holistically beneficial for people and the land. I am talking about regenerative agriculture. In an ideal world, our food should be:
- Tasty and Nutrient Dense
- Ensure Animal Welfare
- Increase Biodiversity
- Healing for the Environment
This is a lofty goal, but I personally believe we can do this. And this is exactly what we are doing on our farm. Ultimately, our goal is to raise food that we would want to eat.
1. LOCAL We raise our chickens on our farm in the north end of Greene County in the small town of Bulls Gap, TN, population 739. Our chickens are processed on site, and our buyers pick up their chickens from our freezers. That is what local agriculture is all about!
2. TASTY AND NUTRIENT DENSE Our chickens eat a number of food items each day. Commercial organic chicken feed, fresh grass, insects, worms, and other pasture creatures that chickens enjoy eating. The feed we use is produced by New Country Organics in Waynesboro, Virginia. It takes us 8 hours to go pick up this feed for our chickens, but we feel strongly that the right feed is important for our chickens. The feed we use is Certified Organic, Soy-Free, and contains no GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Our feed contains Organic Kelp (a large species of seaweed) that contains over 70 different minerals. In addition, our feed also contains a number of fermentation products; these are beneficial bacteria that help the chicken absorb and utilize all the vitamins and minerals in their diet. Here is the list of ingredients for the feed we use:
INGREDIENTS: Organic Field Peas, Organic Corn, Organic Wheat, Organic Oats, Organic Barley, Fish Meal, Organic Rice Bran, Organic Alfalfa Meal, Organic Flaxseed, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Silico Aluminate, Dried Organic Kelp, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, DL Methionine, Yeast Culture, Roughage Product (organic wheat middlings), Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Menadione Nicotinamide Bisulfite Complex, D-Calcium Pantothenic Acid, Niacin Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Biotin, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Aspergillus oryzae Fermentation Extract, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Dried fermentation product of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Dried fermentation product of Lactobacillus casei, Dried fermentation product of Lactobacillus plantarum, Dried fermentation product of Enterococcus faecium, Dried fermentation product of Bacillus coagulans, Dried fermentation product of Bacillus licheniformis, and Dried fermentation product of Bacillus subtilis.
Despite the deceptive marketing of some chicken and egg producers, chickens are not vegetarians; they are omnivores. They eat fresh grass, insects, worms, grubs, and any other bug or crawling thing that may cross their path. When chickens eat a wide variety of food, like they were designed to do, and they eat food that is full of healthy proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, then that chicken is significantly more nutrient dense than what you could ever find in a factory farm.
The result of this nutrient density is a superior tasting meat and eggs. Our egg whites stand up… not sure how else to describe this. Poorer quality egg whites spread out thin over the frying pan, but our egg whites stay tight next to the yolk. The yolk is a deep, orange-yellow and has a richer flavor. Not everyone has as refined a palate to say that this egg has a superior taste to a store bought egg, although I think many do, especially with the yolk. This is best appreciated with poached or boiled eggs, as fried eggs flavor is blended with the oil or butter used for cooking. There is also a seasonality to eggs. Laying hens will decrease egg production in Winter. Also, with less fresh forage and insects, the yolks will be paler. Spring and Summer brings more eggs and deeper-colored yolks.
Older people will often remark how this chicken tastes how they remember chicken tasting when they grew up on a farm as a child. Not everyone has as refined a palate to say that this chicken has a superior taste to a store bought chicken, although I think many do. If the chicken is prepared in a curry or barbecue dish, it may be hard to differentiate, but almost everyone will remark how filling it is. There is a real reason for this. I believe a significant factor for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is that our food is nutrient poor. Our bodies crave many nutrients, and so we end up taking in more calories to fill the nutrient deficit. We are nutrient deprived while being calorically overloaded. When our food is nutrient dense, our bodies don’t crave more calories, and we feel full sooner. Not a bad side effect for something that tastes so good!
3. PURE Here is a list of things we DO NOT USE at any point when raising our chickens:
- Synthetic Chemicals
- Any Medications
- Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) (commonly used in feed)
- Soy Products
Here is what we DO USE:
- Organic Certified Feed
- Fresh Pasture Daily
- Clean Water
- Fresh Air
4. ENSURE ANIMAL WELFARE Our chickens live in mobile pens that are moved to a new section of pasture every day. Not only does this give them increased nutrition (see above), but it allows them to scratch and peck in the grass, hunt insects, bask in the sun, and move to shelter in the rain or heat. Our chickens get to be chickens! We also need to be forthright: we are raising chickens for food. But that doesn’t mean a food animal has to live in poor conditions. We can ensure that our animals are treated with respect through their entire life.
NOTE: PASTURE-RAISED CHICKENS ARE NOT THE SAME AS FREE-RANGE CHICKENS! According to one definition: “Birds raised for meat may be sold as “free-range” if they have government certified access to the outdoors. The door may be open for only five minutes and the farm still qualifies as “free-range.” Apart from the “open door,” no other criteria such as environmental quality, number of birds, or space per bird, are included in the term “free-range.” A government official said: “Places I’ve visited may have just a gravel yard with no alfalfa or other vegetation.”
5. INCREASE BIODIVERSITY By not using any synthetic chemicals on our pastures and forests, we are allowing natural ecosystems the chance to recover. We are using a whole farm management system that will not only preserve the species currently on the farm, but will increase the number of species living on our farm. Our long term vision includes plans for native wildflowers, native pollinators, and improving and creating bird, bat, and beneficial insect habitat.
6. HEALING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT By working with natural systems and patterns, instead of against them, we can push the recovery process into a regenerative process. Our farm will produce cleaner air, water, and soil while raising nutrient dense, humane, and delicious food. That is how regenerative agriculture works!